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Good News for the Yerkes Observatory:

Some months ago, the University of Chicago proposed the sale of over 45 acres of University property which included the Yerkes Observatory. This historic observatory, located near the shores of Lake Geneva in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, began operating in 1897 and houses the worlds largest refractor telescope - at 40 inches in diameter.


The astronomical community was disappointed by the potential loss of such an historic observatory once used by such influential astronomers like Edwin Hubble and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. However, many of these concerns were rumors as a final decision was yet to be reached.

On June 7, 2006, it was announced that 45 acres was sold to Mirbeau Company for 8 million dollars (technically, the University made its intent to sell to Mirbeau). Plans call for construction of a hotel and spa as well as 70 homes. The good news is that the Board of Trustees from the Chicago University and Mirbeau Company agreed to set aside 4 acres conservation zone be included that covers the shores of Lake Geneva and the Yerkes Observatory.

Hotel taxes and a portion of property tax will be set aside to fund future research projects at the observatory - estimated to be $400,000 annually.

In short, the Yerkes Observatory will remain open and continue to do research. This is great news.

A long version of this story is available from the Astronomy Magazine website.


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